Why and How: Defining the Qualities of a Good Photographer – Part 5

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Photograph in black and white of a serval in Kenya.
Photograph in black and white of a serval in Kenya.

Quality 28: "Listening to the World Around You"

If you think you are a good photographer, you have certainly realized that you were listening to the world around you on a scene to photograph.

You are able to analyze each photographic element to create balanced, harmonious and different compositions of what has already been done.

This quality of empathy with the outside world is, in my opinion, an essential quality. This is often called "taking the temperature" of the world around you.

Quality 29: "Knowing How to Judge Your Own Photos"

A good photographer knows first of all how to analyze and judge his own images.

I often meet photographers who strive to give opinions on the photos of others. When I ask them about their own photographs, they are unable to do this analysis.

Yet it is an essential quality. You must be able to analyze an image just after it was taken. You should be able to analyze the composition, the framing, the impact of the photo either on the screen of your camera or on a computer.

By performing a deep, objective and uncompromising analysis, you will be able to improve your vision and your signature in the next photo session. You can also make a tighter sort to keep only images that have impact and meaning.

By developing this quality, you will save a lot of time in the field. Indeed, you will be able to quickly choose and put in place the photographic elements that will compose your scene to transmit your messages, express your emotions or your messages.

Quality 30: "Develop the Sense of Observation"

A good photographer must have a keen sense of observation. Having empathy with the outside world on a stage is certainly a necessity but it is not enough.

You must be able to observe everything that is happening around you to seize this decisive moment so dear to Cartier-Bresson.

This is commonly known as the photographer's eye.

This is the ability to quickly analyze a scene to identify important photographic elements to choose the point of view, compose well and frame well.

You may have this innate ability like other photographers. But I am convinced that constant work can develop this essential faculty.

This is how some photographers even with a medium-range camera are able to make exceptional photographs

Quality 31: "Sometimes Creating Collections That Do Not Meet an Audience"

A good photographer succeeds in creating collections of photographs that have impact, meaning, consistency.

But like all human beings, he is not infallible. Sometime he creates collections of photos that do not meet their audiences.

These are failures that are desirable because you always learn a lot from your own failures. To get up, you should analyze the reasons then to rebound starting on the creation of new collections.

To create a collection of photos, it is sometimes interesting to approach a new photographic style. It is certainly avant-garde. Nobody understands what has been created. But the collection may simply lack interest.

A good photographer never feels sorry for himself. He has to keep moving to find new ideas and go further to look for ways to express himself with photography.

Quality 32: "Being Unconventional"

If you want to be a good photographer, you must be unconventional.

Getting out of your comfort zone is not enough. To seek inspiration in directions that are not yours is not enough.

New sources of inspiration do not mean copying and creating what is fashionable.

To be unconventional, you must have solid photographic foundations and master the technique perfectly. Then you can make digressions to change the rules and impose others on the condition of creating aesthetic images that have a deep meaning.

You must always think differently than what you saw in photography. You must upset your habits. You must escape the conventions.

You must never have afraid to fall. The key is to try new concepts.

Quality 33: "Having a Rigorous Methodology"

If you want to become a good photographer, you must adopt a rigorous methodology whether in the field or during the development of your images.

The methodology allows you to not waste time and do not ask yourself questions at critical moments.

The methodology allows you to limit your photographic approach and to be well focused on your creativity goals.

For example, in wildlife photography having a list of all the accessories you need to take on the field is essential. In landscape photography, if you take long-exposure photographs, you need an application or a chart to calculate the correct exposure speed based on the filter you use.

During the photo workshops that I organize, I usually repeat that the more methodical we are, the more creative we are.

Indeed, if your time is optimized, you do not lose it. All the time earned will be used for your creativity.

Quality 34: "Enriching You with Experiences"

To become a good photographer, you must enrich yourself with experiences. You will be able to easily adapt to new situations.

It is by accepting these new experiences, that you will enroll in a photographic and artistic creative process.

The acquisition of new experiences will allow you to anticipate events that may occur during the sessions of your photo projects. By anticipating them, you can stay focused on the essentials without having to deal with unnecessary details.

Quality 35: "Understanding the Main Photographic Element"

A good photographer is able to identify the main photographic element of a scene. He must also understand that this element is not necessarily the subject of an artistic photograph.

Never forget that when you create an artistic photograph, it is the main focus that is important but the emotions or the message you want to convey.

Quality 36: "Having a Real Photographic Identity"

A good photographer always has a photographic identity.

Defining your photographic identity will allow you to say who you are, what you want to be, who you want to be taken by others, whether photographers or not.

Your photographic identity will define how you will be perceived by the world around you.

Define your photographic identity allows you to list all the artistic data that will individualize your artistic approach.

It is a bit like your administrative identity with your physical characteristics, your date and your place of birth.

A photographic identity allows you to individualize yourself, to get out of the mass of photographers, to ensure your singularity and your artistic individuality.


This exhaustive grid of qualities that a good photographer must possess may seem long and difficult to respect. Yet it works. You just need a little time to assimilate all the qualities.

If I had to summarize in a few words what seems to me the most important, I would say this.

A good photographer has a photographic (and artistic) approach perfectly defined and clear. He has a real photographic consciousness. He knows how to last in time by creating coherent, consistent collections of photographs that make sense with the photographic language. He knows how to tell the stories that everyone will remember.


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